Newsletter: Still smiling

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Members of Tribune Publishing Guilds released a study last week documenting rampant pay disparities based on race, gender and ethnicity at more than a dozen Tribunes newsrooms across the country.

The study shows that median pay for women is about $8,355 less than for male colleagues across the company’s unionized newsrooms. Median pay for white newsroom employees is $4,530 higher than the median pay for those who are Hispanic or Latino, $7,510 more than the median pay of Asian employees and $7,740 more than the median pay for Black employees. The median pay for Black women is 22.5% lower than that of white men!

“We’re calling on Tribune Publishing to work with the Guild to create a more equitable work environment for all ᅳ one that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race or gender ᅳ and to take concrete, measurable steps toward increasing diversity and inclusion in all of our workplaces,” the study says. The “measurable steps,” which Tribune Guilds have proposed in contract negotiations, include reporting annually on the company’s performance in hiring and retaining diverse employees, completing the American Society of News Editors annual reports on diversity in the newsroom, and actively recruiting marginalized candidates by posting jobs on the websites of the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association, Association of LGBTQ Journalists, The Maynard Institute and the Journalism Diversity Project.

Tribune has refused to commit to the recommendations or any measurable goals.

Guild members united workers and supporters at a Town Hall that chronicled the devastating effects of the disparities and staff cutbacks on our communities.

This study is only the latest NewsGuild report to show significant pay disparities and a failure to employ staff that reflects the communities we serve. Clearly, we must continue the fight.

Women’s Equal Pay Day is tomorrow, March 15. Equal Pay Day symbolizes how long women must work in 2022 to catch up to the earnings of white men in 2021. Click here for the Guild’s Twitter thread or write your own message. Here’s a link to the Guild’s graphic. A coalition of women’s organizations is organizing a Twitter storm at 2 p.m. ET, so that’s the best time to tweet.

With help from the Guild, Lee Enterprises has beaten back Alden Global Capital’s latest attempt to take control of the company. Alden, the notorious “destroyer of newspapers,” was trying to commandeer Lee’s board of directors, the same way it took over Tribune’s board last year.

Earlier this month, I reached out to Lee’s shareholders and urged them to vote for Lee’s nominees to the board and to reject Alden’s campaign against them. On behalf of the Guild, I told Lee shareholders that Alden has done more to damage the news industry and undermine our democracy in the last decade than any other force.

Although we have many serious disagreements with Lee management, I noted that between 2010 and 2019, Lee reduced its headcount at unionized shops by 46%, compared to 74.4% for Alden-controlled unionized news outlets. According to the Pew Research Center, the news industry lost 37% of jobs over that same period.

Quality journalism is essential for American democracy and we will always fight for it.

Eleven days later, I’m still smiling about NYT Tech Guild’s victory. It’s hard to overstate the significance of the landslide win: The 600-member group will be the largest union of tech workers with bargaining rights in the country and the biggest new unit to join the Guild in decades.

After 10 months of organizing in the face of an intense anti-union campaign, they won more than 80% of the vote.

I saw their determination firsthand and never doubted they would win.

What did surprise me – and still enrages me – is that management of the New York Times, which has editorialized in favor of union recognition based on “majority sign up,” fought their workers every step of the way.

Workers resisted at every turn, organizing their coworkers, leading a half-day walkout in August 2021, rallying at the Times’ doorstep in November and finding clever ways to assert power on the company slack. They never wavered.

Members of the Times Tech Guild are psyched and ready to get to the bargaining table to negotiate their first contract. They were chanting “R-F-I”, shorthand for “request for information” after their win. They are the largest tech worker unit with bargaining rights in the U.S.

I talked about the significance of the Times Tech Guild win on America’s Workforce Union Podcast last week, along with our legislative efforts to save local news.

Journalists at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle announced last week that they’re forming the Yellowstone News Guild. “For too long, Chronicle staff have struggled to afford to live in the very community they cover, largely due to a pay structure that does not come close to providing a living wage for Bozeman,” workers said in a press statement.

Furloughs that were presented as temporary now turned into reductions in work hours lasting for almost two years, with no end in sight. In the meantime, the cost of living in Bozeman has skyrocketed.

“It is time for Adams Publishing to do better by its employees,” staffers said.

Workers at the Financial Times, who announced in January that they’re forming the FT U.S. Guild, are asking supporters to sign their petition calling on management to voluntarily recognize their union. Their colleagues in London have a union, colleagues at our sister publication FT Specialist have a union. Now it is their turn.

Members of the Charlotte Observer News Guild won voluntary recognition of their union from McClatchy, which owns the publication, on March 2. “The Charlotte Observer News Guild is ready to work for the needs of our journalists, and we’re excited to move forward together with management,” union members tweeted. “Next up: a fair and comprehensive contract aimed at securing the rich and vibrant future this newsroom deserves.”

Staffers at End Citizens United, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that everyone has a voice and freedom to participate in our democracy, also won voluntary recognition. Congratulations!

The journalists of the Record-Courier in Portage County, Ohio, have won a favorable ruling from the National Labor Relations Board and will begin voting on unionization this week.

Members of the Longview NewsGuild reached a tentative agreement on a first contract last week after eight months of bargaining with Lee Enterprises. The agreement would guarantee a wage increase, more bereavement leave, severance pay and just cause. Union members will vote on the contract by the end of the month. Congratulations!

Brent Renaud

Over the weekend there was more disturbing news out of Ukraine. Journalist Brent Renaud, an award-winning filmmaker who’s worked for several publications, was shot and killed while reporting near Kyiv on Sunday. His death follows Russia’s ramped up propaganda and their passage of a law making it illegal to call their invasion a war inside Russia. Several outlets have stopped publishing news inside Russia.

Journalists run towards the fire to be the first witnesses of history. We are the light in the darkness. We do that work to protect democracy through transparency while holding power to account. Brent’s death is a tragic loss and our hearts go out to his friends and family.

Finally, we’ve scheduled some great training sessions. Check them out!Contract Campaign Training, 12-1:30 pm ET, Sat, March 26.
Build the skills you need to win contract campaigns.
Register here.

Steward Training Module 1 – Steward Basics, 6-8 pm ET, Tues, April 5.
Review the roles stewards play in our union and the best practices for having effective organizing conversations.
Register here.

Steward Training Module 2 – A Workplace Organizer,6-8 pm ET, Tues, April 19.
Discuss how stewards maintain effective union structures and assess power in their workplace.
Register here.

Steward Training Module 3 – A Communication and Educator, 6-8 pm ET, Tues, May 3.
Learn how stewards drive the exchange of information and uphold an organizing culture throughout their union.
Register here.

Steward Training Module 4 – A Problem Solver, 6-8 pm ET, Tues, May 17.
Outline how stewards turn workplace issues into organizing issues, then practice planning and evaluating collective action.
Register here.

Steward Training Module 5 – A Union Representative, 6-8 pm ET, Tues, May 31.
Build confidence in asserting your rights and contract, then role play through Weingarten and grievance meetings.
Register here.

Steward Training Module 6 – Anti-Harassment Workshop, 6-8 pm ET, Tues, June 14.Join the effort to improve our readiness for, and response to, harassment in our workplaces and union.
Register here.

In solidarity,

Jon Schleuss
President, NewsGuild-CWA

Photo at top: The joy was evident when members of the Times Tech Guild celebrated their win.